Forty-One

This evening Reiko was watching a special about Shimura Ken, an incredibly popular Japanese comedian who recently and very quickly passed away after contracting the COVID-19 virus. His passing has resulted in a great deal of grief across the country as he was a genuine personality. His celebrity never went to his head and he always had something positive to say. Reiko grew up watching his shows and he was on TV right up until last month. Given his 40+ year career, it's only natural that people across the country would grieve his passing. Tonight's TV special included a number of interviews where Ken was able to get rather philosophical and explain the why behind his actions and one of these really connected with Reiko on a fundamental level:

If you love what you do, then you can keep doing it forever. Your delivery will evolve. Your specialty will become more nuanced. If you do it well enough, then nothing can stand in your way. However, if you doubt yourself, then it's time to move on. An audience can feel disinterest a mile away.1

Reiko and I are both in our 40s. While I've been preoccupied — perhaps excessively — with my own mortality since the 90s, Reiko is just starting to seriously think about hers. I've passed my expected mid-life point2 and Reiko is approaching hers. It's no wonder she's starting to wonder if she wants to continue with the current career or consider exploring one of her many other interests. Considering the number of non-positive changes that have started taking place at her university, I suggested she seriously look at learning a new skill and sharing that knowledge with the world. She's always been someone who loves to share knowledge. Even if she were to give up her position as a teacher at a university, she'd find other avenues to educate people. That's just the sort of person she is.

There are a lot of avenues of study that Reiko could embark upon. She's interested in nutrition, early childhood education, and a number of different craftworks. Of these, she has consistently expressed a desire to formally study nutrition for as long as we've been married and I've often suggested she invest some time into seriously studying this on her own for a couple of months to see if it's something she'd want to dedicate her energy to for a few years. Hopefully she reaches the conclusion that maybe a little bit of focus and study would be a good thing, if for no other reason than to see whether she's genuinely interested in the subject or if it's something she's mildly curious about.

We're both at the mid-point of our expected lives. We've worked incredibly hard for a decade and a half to be where we are right now. If Reiko were to take a year or two off from her current job to focus on something else, we'd be perfectly fine. This luxury of time and financial security was a hard-fought battle, but we've made serious progress. Should Reiko make the decision to devote her days to studying a new subject and maybe using that new knowledge to help others, then I'm all for it. Heck, even if she uses it just to help family, I'll be 100% behind her. There is so much for any one of us to regret as we face our final days. The last thing I want is for Reiko to think that she was "trapped" into doing something that she's lost interest in for the sake of a paycheque.


  1. This was the gist based on my memory of the quote, which was all in Japanese … as one would expect.

  2. No male that I am genetically related to has lived past the age of 77. Today marks my 41st year on this planet. The average life expectancy for men in Japan is 81.25 years. That works out to 29,676 days, divided by two is 14,838, tacked on to my birthday is November 17, 2019. While life expectancy is not a science, I do enjoy the math that can be applied.